Canadian home sales rose 1.1 per cent from February to March 2017, surpassing the previous monthly record set in April 2016, according to statistics released by the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA).
Home sales in March were up on a month-over-month basis in over half of all local markets, led by the Lower Mainland of British Columbia, London & St. Thomas and Montreal.
Actual (not seasonally adjusted) sales activity in March rose 6.6 per cent year-over-year, with increases in nearly 75 per cent of all local markets. Sales in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) experienced the largest increase, which offset the decline in Greater Vancouver’s home sales.
“The current strength in national home sales mainly speaks to what’s going on in and around Toronto,” said Andrew Peck, CREA president, in a press release. “Elsewhere, sales either remain slow or well below previous heights.”
“The latest Canadian housing market statistics suggest that the drum-tight housing market balance in Toronto and nearby cities stands in contrast to housing market trends elsewhere in Ontario and other provinces,” added Gregory Klump, CREA’s chief economist. “Because housing market balance varies by location, federal or provincial policy measures aimed at cooling demand in Toronto risk destabilizing housing markets elsewhere.”
The number of newly-listed homes climbed 2.5 per cent month-over-month in March 2017, led by increases in the GTA, Calgary, Edmonton and the Lower Mainland of British Columbia. As new listings climbed more than sales, the national sales-to-new listings ratio fell to 67.4 per cent, indicating sellers’ market conditions. Sellers’ market conditions were present in about 60 per cent of all local housing markets during the month of March, the majority of which are located in British Columbia, in and around the GTA and across southwestern Ontario.
Nationally, there were 4.1 months of inventory at the end of March 2017, down from 4.2 months in February, representing the lowest level for this measure in nearly a decade. However, this figure stood at or below one month in the GTA, Hamilton-Burlington, Oakville-Milton, Kitchener-Waterloo, Cambridge, Brantford, Guelph, Barrie & District, parts of the Niagara Region and parts of cottage country.
The MLS Home Price Index (HPI) climbed 18.6 per cent year-over-year in March 2017, with steep increases seen across all housing categories tracked by the index. Two-storey single family homes saw the largest year-over-year price increase at 21 per cent, while the price of a townhome climbed 17.9 per cent. One-storey single family homes saw prices climb 16.6 per cent year-over-year, while apartment units saw the slowest increase at 16.3 per cent. Although benchmark home prices were up on a year-over-year basis in 11 of 13 housing markets, price trends varied widely between regions.
The actual (not seasonally adjusted) national average price for homes sold in March was $548,517, an increase of 8.2 per cent compared to year-ago levels. This number continues to be pulled upward by sales in the Greater Vancouver and Greater Toronto areas, which continue to be two of Canada’s tightest, most active and expensive housing markets.
Greater Vancouver’s share of national sales activity has faltered considerably over the last year, causing it to impact the national average price less. However, if Greater Toronto and Greater Vancouver are excluded from calculations, the national average price drops by more than $150,000 to a reasonable $389,726.